CALL TO ACTION AT FLOWnGROW WORKSHOP: Science-based Understanding + Inter-generational Commitment = Water-Resilient Communities 


FLOWnGROW: Three Bold Ideas

Water is a form-maker. It defines communities. Also, water-centric decisions ripple through time. Choices made today will determine what the future looks like. Over time, will our decisions result in cumulative benefits or cumulative impacts?

To help communities make informed choices that would create a desirable future, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is dedicated to mainstreaming bold ideas in a pragmatic way. Through an approach that is inclusive, we draw attention to leading thinkers and to ideas that would transform how communities tackle critical issues.

Join us in Kelowna on November 29 to learn more from an all-star team of ‘thought leaders’.

To Learn More:



Embrace Three Bold Ideas

The FLOWnGROW workshop is the fourth in a series of annual events. The theme for each is a bold idea. For those participating in the series, it has been a building blocks process.

The program for FLOWnGROW is designed to showcase three “bold ideas” – Whole Systems Approach, Blue Ecology and Cathedral Thinking. With the program structured as four cascading modules, these ideas are the threads that link the storyline from start to finish.

The Road to Water and Watershed Sustainability

“The FLOWnGROW program has the real potential of influencing how we address water sustainability issues in BC going forward,” states Eric Bonham, team leader for Module A, titled Spirit & Science – An Inclusive Journey.

Eric Bonham_2012_120p“The themes, Whole Systems Approach, reflecting integration through inclusion, Blue Ecology, the interweaving of First Nations and Western Thought and Cathedral Thinking, the foresight and planning for future generations, will set the context for the day.”

“The purpose of the workshop is to explore ideas that have universal value and broad application as we travel the road towards genuine long-term water sustainability.”

Strive for Water-Resilient Communities

Common practice is to manipulate a single variable out of context with the whole and its many additional variables. Yet everything is connected to everything else.

Recognition of this fact-of-life provides the starting point for a Whole Systems Approach that respects ecosystem and cultural values, ensures food security and builds water-resilient communities.

Michael Blackstock

Michael Blackstock

Blue Ecology is a concept whose time has come. “Interweaving is a tool for bringing perspectives together. Western science is not wrong. It is just not complete. It is a matter of Western science embracing that water is part of a living ecosystem,” asserts Michael D. Blackstock, Blue Ecology pioneer and presenter in Module A.

“If truly acted upon, Blue Ecology has the potential to radically change and improve the approach to water management as well as providing another perspective on climate change,” observes Eric Bonham.

The journey to a water-resilient future would be guided by Cathedral Thinking. The concept dates back to medieval times. It aptly describes the inter-generational commitment that would be required to achieve a ‘design with nature’ vision – one that integrates water balance solutions into land use decisions, and restores ecosystem values.

Re-Set the Ecological Baseline

A goal of FLOWnGROW is to seed conversations about these bold ideas. We hope to energize and inspire participants to apply what they will have learned.

Whole Systems Approach, Blue Ecology and Cathedral Thinking – a synthesis of all three is necessary to instil a ‘design with nature’ ethic (in planners, designers and decision-makers) recognizing the need to balance growth with long term water security.

This ethic would then drive practices and standards that would re-set the ecological baseline, the ultimate desired outcome.

Water is the vital link. As Michael Blackstock has also written: “Water has the potential to become a catalyst for cooperation rather than a source of conflict”.

“In this regard the importance of teaching youth, the next generation of leaders, respect for water’s central spiritual and functional role at an early age is essential,” stresses Eric Bonham.

Universal Application

“It is important to remind ourselves that working from a common set of values and principles is important whether addressing issues in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island,” continues Eric Bonham.

“This allows for diversity of application depending on local conditions, issues and priorities. This should align nicely with the storyline by John Wagner and John Janmaat when they talk about ethics and values in Module D, titled Moving Towards a Sustainable Water Future.”